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Thetford Elementary School

Thetford, Vermont

Dear Parents,

I am off to a busy start in the RAP room.  These first few weeks of school I am busy doing assessments.  In the primary unit I am doing the POA (Primary Observation Assessment) in conjunction with the classroom teachers.  These are a group of tests given individually that give me information about students' knowledge of letters, sounds, words and books.  Also, I am assisting teachers with the DSA (Developmental Spelling Assessment).

By the time I am done with these assessments I have a pretty good handle on how to meet the needs of our students as learners in reading and word work instruction.

I am looking forward to a great year helping children to become lovers of reading and books.  There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a child's face light up when he or she has successfully read a book,  understood an author's point of view, or figured out the code of unlocking words.


Marty Bouchard



Phonics instruction teaches children the relationships between the letters (graphemes) of written language and the individual sounds (phonemes) of spoken language.   It teaches children to use these relationships to read and write words.  They learn that there are systematic and predictable relationships between written letters and spoken sounds.  Knowing these relationships will help children recognize familiar words accurately and automatically, and "decode" new words.

Some critics of phonics instruction argue that English spellings are too irregular for phonics instruction to really help children learn to read words.  The point is, however, that phonics instruction teaches children a system for remembering how to read words.  Once children learn, for instance, that phone is spelled this way rather than foan, their memory helps them to read, spell, and recognize the word instantly and more accurately.  The same is true for other irregularly spelled words.  Most of these words contain some regular letter-sound relationships that can help children remember how to read them.

Another criticism of phonics instruction is that it gets in the way of reading comprehension.  Actually the opposite is true.  Because systematic phonics instruction helps children learn to identify words, it increases their ability to comprehend what they read.  Reading words accurately and automatically enable children to focus on the meaning of the text.

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